Rule 6-204. Accepting Jurisdiction
State Bar Programs / Part VI - Arbitration of Fee Disputes / CHAPTER 2 JURISDICTIONAL GUIDELINES / Rule 6-204. Accepting Jurisdiction
The Committee or its designee may accept jurisdiction over a fee dispute only if the following requirements are satisfied:
(a) The fee in question, whether paid or unpaid, was for legal services rendered by a lawyer who is, or was at the time the services were rendered, a member of the State Bar of Georgia or otherwise authorized to practice law in the State of Georgia.
(b) The legal services in question were performed:
(1) in the State of Georgia; or
(2) from an office located in the State of Georgia; or
(3) by a lawyer who is not admitted to the practice of law in any United States jurisdiction other than Georgia, and the circumstances are such that if the State Bar of Georgia does not accept jurisdiction, no other United States jurisdiction will be available to a client who has filed a petition under this program.
(c) The disputed fee exceeds $750.
(d) The amount of the disputed fee is not governed by statute or other law, nor has any court fixed or approved the full amount or all terms of the disputed fee.
(e) The fee dispute is not the subject of litigation in court at the time the petition for arbitration is filed or when the Committee determines jurisdiction.
(f) The petition seeking arbitration of the fee dispute is filed with the Committee no more than two years following the date on which the controversy arose. If this date is disputed, it shall be determined in the same manner as the commencement of a cause of action on the underlying contract.
(g) In the case of disputes between lawyers and clients, a lawyer/client relationship existed between the petitioner and the respondent at the time the legal services in question were performed. A relative or other person paying the legal fees of the client may request arbitration of disputes over those fees, provided both the client and the other person payor join as co-petitioners or co-respondents and both agree to be bound by the result of the arbitration.
(h) The client, whether petitioner or respondent, agrees to be bound by the result of the arbitration. If the respondent attorney does not agree to be bound by the result of the arbitration, the Committee in its discretion may determine that it is in the best interest of the public and the legal profession to accept jurisdiction. When the Committee accepts jurisdiction under these circumstances, the nonconsenting lawyer shall be considered a “party” for purposes of these rules.
(i) In disputes between lawyers, the lawyers who are parties to the dispute are all members of the State Bar of Georgia and have all agreed to arbitrate the dispute under this program and to be bound by the result of the arbitration.
Additionally, where the parties to a fee dispute have signed a written agreement to submit fee disputes to binding arbitration with the State Bar of Georgia’s Attorney Fee Arbitration Program, the Committee will consider the agreement enforceable if it is:
(1) set out in a separate paragraph;
(2) written in a font size at least as large as the rest of the contract; and
(3) separately initialed by the client and the attorney.
In deciding whether to accept jurisdiction, the Committee shall review available evidence, including the recommendations of the staff, and make a determination whether to accept or decline jurisdiction. The Committee’s decisions on jurisdiction are final, except that such decisions are subject to reconsideration by the Committee upon the request of either party made within 30 days of the initial decision. Staff shall notify the parties of the Committee’s decision on jurisdiction by first class mail.
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